Undernutrition among Women in Ethiopia

Type Working Paper - DHS Working Paper
Title Undernutrition among Women in Ethiopia
Issue 77
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/WP77/WP77.pdf
The Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015 (MDG 5) is highly related to women’s nutritional status. Poor maternal nutrition is directly associated with mother’s lack of resistance to infection and to maternal ill health during pregnancy and childbirth, particularly among the poor. Therefore, providing obstetric care alone is not enough unless poor women’s nutritional status is also addressed. In- depth understanding of women’s nutritional status is crucial to reducing maternal mortality and food insecurity. The percentage undernourished is higher in Ethiopia than in any other sub- Saharan African country. Thus this study focuses on undernutrition in Ethiopia to assess levels and socio-demographic differentials between rural and urban areas, and to analyze determinants.
The paper uses the population-level data sets from the 2000 and 2005 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Surveys (EDHS), comprising 13,057and 5,677 non-pregnant and non- postpartum women age 15-49, respectively. Women’s body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2) is used as a measure of women’s nutritional status, and those with a BMI value less than 18.5 are considered to be at risk of chronic energy deficiency (CED). A logistic regression model was employed to identify important determinant factors of women’s undernutrition.
The study finds that 30.5% of women in the 2000 EDHS and 26.9% of the women in the 2005 survey were undernourished, of whom in the 2000 survey 19.4% were moderately undernourished and 11.1% were severely undernourished. Similarly, in the 2005 survey 18.0% were moderately undernourished and 8.9% severely undernourished. The levels of undernutrition were almost 1.5 times higher for rural than urban women. There seems to be some improvement in women’s undernutrition status between 2000 and 2005.
Age, marital status, religion, occupation, wealth index and region of residence were found to significantly affect chronic energy deficiency for women in 2000 survey year, while in 2005 religion and region of residence were no longer factors influencing women’s undernutrition. In 2000 undernutrition in rural areas was significantly associated with age, marital status, occupation and region, while in 2005 marital status was no longer a determinant. In urban areas, marital status, education (in 2000 only), wealth and region were found to significantly affect women’s level of undernutrition in the two survey years. Among the regions,
women in Tigray, Afar, Somali, Gambella and Ben-Gumuz were highly likely to be undernourished. In these regions more than one-third of women experience undernutrition.
In order to improve women’s nutritional status, policy should focus on creating mechanisms and opportunities to increase agricultural productivity, particularly in Tigray, Afar, Gambella, Ben-Gumuz and Somali, and to promote health service provision in these regions. Policy also should emphasize women’s education, particularly in rural areas, and seek job creation opportunities particularly in urban areas.

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